Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Email Is Not Dead; Gmail Rolls Out New Features

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Long ago in internet time, email was hip and was the next big thing. No longer did we have to shove paper into fax machines to send relatively quick communications, nor did we have to wait for the paper to spit out from such noisy machines when receiving fast-breaking information. Instead, in paperless fashion, we could send and receive emails right from our own computers, and then laptops, tablets, and phones.

But technology continues to evolve. And as internet time went by, email no longer was cool, and by some was considered to be a dinosaur. Why? Because along came texts and the vast assortment of social media means of communication, like instant messaging, Snap chats, WhatsApp messages, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and the list goes on and on. And there were concerns about email hacks and lack of security.

So, is email dead? Not so fast! First of all, Google claims to have 1.4 billion monthly active Gmail users. And second, to keep email popular among its users, especially given hacking concerns, Google is introducing an updated version of Gmail that will allow for disappearing emails, in addition to other features like priority and snoozing functions, a calendar and tasks panel, and a slightly different design, according to CNN.com.

Of all these new features though, the most notable has to do with security. When drafting an email, a user can click the lock icon at the bottom of the Gmail email to turn on Confidential Mode. At that point, the user can set the message to expire anywhere from one day to five years, and can require the recipient of the email to enter a passcode texted to their phone before that person can read the email. Moreover, emails in Confidential Mode will pop open in a unique window that does not permit the recipient to forward, copy, or print the message. (Of course, screenshotting is still possible). Also, the sender can revoke an email at any point. And these tools work not only as to emails sent to other Gmail users, but to non-Gmail accounts as well.

On top of all of this, Gmail is implementing large color-coded warnings on emails that it deems to be suspicious. Moreover, Gmail is adding a feature called Nudging. This feature pushes emails it deems to be important to the top of the email in box as to as many as three emails per day.

And if this were not enough, attachments are shown in small boxes in preview.

Is email totally yesterday? Or, long live email!

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at [email protected] with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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